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The Endnote Session you do not want to miss! Do you wonder about the future of college costs, state funding, access for all Illinois students, or how decisions are made in Springfield? The Be Extraordinary endnote session will address accomplishments, challenges, and the future of higher education in Illinois with three of Illinois’ rising leaders.

Three State Representatives will participate in a panel discussion and answer your questions. Representative Kelly Burke (D-36) uses her extensive background in law and higher education as chair of the Higher Education Committee. Representatives Tom Demmer (R-90) and Will Guzzardi (D-39) are two of the youngest members serving in the Illinois House of Representatives. Together they cofounded the Illinois Future Caucus. Both serve on education committees and are committed to finding legislative solutions to issues facing Illinois’ millennial generation.

Kelly Burke

State Representative (D-36th District)
Illinois House of Representatives

Kelly Burke has been a state representative since 2011 for the 36th District, which includes the Chicago communities of Auburn Gresham, Beverly, Mount Greenwood and Wrightwood and the suburbs of Evergreen Park, Oak Lawn, Chicago Ridge, Worth, Palos Hills, Palos Park, Palos Heights and Willow Springs.   Kelly received her B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her J.D. from the John Marshall Law School.

Prior to joining the legislature, Kelly was as a member of the Evergreen Park Library Board, serving as president of the board for five years. Kelly has used her experience on the board to continue development in the area and to push for fiscal stability for the state.

From 2006 to 2011, Kelly served on the staff of Saint Xavier University. She was part of a team that raised funds for several university programs and improvements, including campus building renovations and greater student scholarship assistance.

Kelly’s work in higher education, her service on a local library board and as the mother of three children has played a critical role in her legislative priorities. She has fought for greater fiscal responsibility, budget reforms, and demanding the state live within its means while protecting funding for education, public safety and programs for seniors and veterans.

Prior to joining Saint Xavier University, Kelly practiced law for 14 years. She also served as a law clerk to two circuit court judges and as a legislative aide to a state representative.  Kelly is an alumna of the Edgar Fellows Leadership Program (2012) at the University of Illinois and is an adjunct faculty member at Loyola University Law School.

Tom Demmer

State Representative (R-90th District)
Illinois House of Representatives

Tom Demmer is State Representative for the 90th District in the Illinois House of Representatives, a district which includes parts of DeKalb, LaSalle, Lee and Ogle Counties. As a legislator, Tom serves on healthcare, education, and agriculture committees and is a strong voice for transparency, fiscal responsibility, and innovation. Tom is the co-founder of the Future Caucus in Illinois, an effort to build relationships and support bi-partisan solutions among young legislators. Tom is also the Director of Strategic Planning at KSB Hospital, a not-for-profit community hospital with 10 locations and 1,000 employees. Tom leads development of corporate strategy and offers data analysis to support daily operations and new initiatives.

Prior to his election in 2012 to the General Assembly, Tom served on the Lee County Board. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Dayton, studying communications and political science. Tom served as a White House intern in the Office of the Vice President of the United States in 2006.

Tom serves on the Board of Directors of the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home Preservation Foundation. He is a member of St. Anne Parish, the Dixon Rotary Club, the Knights of Columbus, and he has been a volunteer basketball coach at the Dixon YMCA and a volunteer teacher of Junior Achievement classes.

Will Guzzardi

State Representative (D-39th District)
Illinois House of Representatives

Will Guzzardi is State Representative in the 39th District and lives in Logan Square, where he volunteers as a community organizer with numerous neighborhood groups. He spearheaded Logan Square United for Brentano, an organization that saved Brentano Math and Science Academy from closure through grassroots action. He also organized with CODE (Communities Organized for Democracy in Education) to fight for an elected school board in Chicago; in the November 2012 elections, Guzzardi worked with volunteers to get an elected school board referendum on the ballot in 40 precincts in our community. That advisory ballot measure passed with 87% approval in our area, after extensive organizing by Guzzardi and CODE.

Additionally, Will has dedicated himself to improving voter access in Chicago. As an advisory board member of Chicago Votes, a non-partisan voting rights organization, he helped lead the initiative to institute online voter registration in Illinois. After active lobbying and grassroots mobilization, Guzzardi and Chicago Votes got that initiative passed by the state legislature in the spring of 2013. It was signed into law by the Governor at the Logan Square Library, with Guzzardi and other Chicago Votes members present to celebrate the bill’s success. Registering to vote on the internet became a reality in Illinois in the summer of 2014.

In his professional life, Will has worked in communications at the University of Chicago and as a reporter at Huffington Post Chicago, where he did pioneering investigative reporting and shone a light on the often unseen and underappreciated work of nonprofit groups and community organizations across the city.

Originally from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Guzzardi attended Brown University, where he graduated with a degree in comparative literature, and has lived in Logan Square ever since. He is passionate about education, and has taught afterschool programs and tutored public school students for ten years.

Since joining the Illinois General Assembly in January of 2015, Will has introduced and sponsored legislation to reform the juvenile justice system, limit the burden of standardized testing on students, improve wages and conditions for Illinois workers, protect our state’s environment, and strengthen LGBTQ rights. While in Springfield, he continues to fight for social and economic justice and expanding services to communities in need.

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